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[Illustration: One young woman brought a great pan of stew and bread
and three spoons to the van. _Frontispiece._]


THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS AMONG THE GYPSIES

How They Met
What Happened
And How It Ended

by

GRACE BROOKS HILL

Author of "The Corner House Girls," "The Corner House
Girls on a Houseboat," etc.

Illustrated by Thelma Gooch







Barse & Hopkins
Publishers
Newark, N. J. New York, N. Y.


* * * * *


BOOKS FOR GIRLS
The Corner House Girls Series
By Grace Brooks Hill
_12mo. Cloth. Illustrated._

THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS AT SCHOOL
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS UNDER CANVAS
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS IN A PLAY
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS' ODD FIND
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS ON A TOUR
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS GROWING UP
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS SNOWBOUND
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS ON A HOUSEBOAT
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS AMONG THE GYPSIES

Publishers
BARSE & HOPKINS
Newark, N. J. New York, N. Y.

* * * * *


Copyright, 1921,
by
Barse & Hopkins

_The Corner House Girls Among the Gypsies_
Printed in U. S. A.




CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE
I The Fretted Silver Bracelet 9
II A Profound Mystery 20
III Sammy Pinkney in Trouble 31
IV The Gypsy Trail 40
V Sammy Occasions Much Excitement 50
VI The Gypsy's Words 60
VII The Bracelet Again To the Fore 70
VIII The Misfortunes of a Runaway 81
IX Things Go Wrong 90
X All Is Not Gold That Glitters 100
XI Mysteries Accumulate 108
XII Getting in Deeper 114
XIII Over the Hills and Far Away 122
XIV Almost Had Him 134
XV Uncertainties 143
XVI The Dead End of Nowhere 149
XVII Ruth Begins To Worry 157
XVIII The Junkman Again 165
XIX The House Is Haunted 175
XX Plotters at Work 184
XXI Tess and Dot Take a Hand 195
XXII Excitement Galore 206
XXIII A Surprising Meeting 217
XXIV The Captives 234
XXV It Must Be All Right 244




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

One young woman brought a great pan of stew and bread and three
spoons to the van Title

"You have found it!" he chattered with great excitement 112

The girls could sit under the trees while Luke reclined on a
swinging cot 158

"They want that silver thing back. It wasn't meant for you" 203




THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS AMONG THE GYPSIES




CHAPTER I - THE FRETTED SILVER BRACELET


If Sammy Pinkney had not been determined to play a "joey" and hooked
back one of the garage doors so as to enter astride a broomstick with a
dash and the usual clown announcement, "Here we are again!" all would
not have happened that did happen to the Corner House girls - at least,
not in just the way the events really occurred.

Even Dot, who was inclined to be forgiving of most of Sammy's sins both
of omission and commission, admitted that to be true. Tess, the next
oldest Corner House girl (nobody ever dignified her with the name of
"Theresa," unless it were Aunt Sarah Maltby) was inclined to reflect the
opinion regarding most boys held by their oldest sister, Ruth. Tess's
frank statement to this day is that it was entirely Sammy's fault that
they were mixed up with the Gypsies at all.

But -

"Well, if I'm going to be in your old circus," Sammy announced doggedly,
"I'm going to be a joey - or _nothin'_."

"You know very well, Sammy, that you can't be that," said Tess
reprovingly.

"Huh? Why can't I? I bet I'd make just as good a clown as Mr. Sully
Sorber, who is Neale's half-uncle, or Mr. Asa Scruggs, who is
Barnabetta's father."

"I don't mean you can't be a clown," interrupted Tess. "I mean you can't
be just _nothing_. You occupy space, so you must be something. Our
teacher says so."

"Shucks!" ejaculated Sammy Pinkney. "Don't I know that? And I wish you
wouldn't talk about school. Why! we're only in the middle of our
vacation, I should hope."

"It seems such a long time since we went to school," murmured Dot, who
was sitting by, nursing the Alice-doll in her arms and waiting her turn
to be called into the circus ring, which was the cleared space in the
middle of the cement floor.

"That's because all you folks went off cruising on that houseboat and
never took me with you," grumbled Sammy, who still held a deep-seated
grouch because of the matter mentioned. "But 'tain't been long since
school closed - and it isn't going to be long before the old thing opens
again."

"Why, Sammy!" admonished Tess.

"I just _hate_ school, so I do!" vigorously announced the boy. "I'd
rather be a tramp - or a Gypsy. Yes, I would."

"Or a pirate, Sammy?" suggested Dot reflectively. "You know, me and you
didn't have a very nice time when we went off to be pirates. 'Member?"

"Huh!" grumbled Sammy, "that was because you was along. Girls can't be
pirates worth shucks. And anyway," he concluded, "I'm going to be the
joey in this show, or I won't play."

"It will be supper time and the others will be back with the car, so
none of us can play if we don't start in pretty soon," Tess observed.
"Dot and I want to practice our gym work that Neale O'Neil has been
teaching us. But you can clown it all you want to, Sammy."

"Well, that lets me begin the show anyway," Sammy stated with
satisfaction.

He always did want to lead. And now he immediately ran to hook back the
door and prepared to make his entrance into the ring in true clowning
style, as he had seen Sully Sorber do in Twomley & Sorber's Herculean
Circus and Menagerie.

The Kenway garage opened upon Willow Street and along that pleasantly
shaded and quiet thoroughfare just at this time came three rather odd
looking people. Two were women carrying brightly stained baskets of
divers shapes, and one of these women - usually the younger one - went into
the yard of each house and knocked at the side or back door, offering
the baskets for sale.

The younger one was black-eyed and rather pretty. She was neatly dressed
in very bright colors and wore a deal of gaudy jewelry. The older woman
was not so attractive - or so clean.

Loitering on the other side of the street, and keeping some distance
behind the Gypsy women, slouched a tall, roughly clad fellow who was
evidently their escort. The women came to the Kenway garage some time
after Sammy Pinkney had made his famous "entrance" and Dot had abandoned
the Alice-doll while she did several handsprings on the mattress that
Tess had laid down. Dot did these very well indeed. Neale O'Neil, who
had been trained in the circus, had given both the smaller Corner House
girls the benefit of his advice and training. They loved athletic
exercises. Mrs. McCall, the Corner House housekeeper, declared Tess and
Dot were as active as grasshoppers.

The two dark-faced women, as they peered in at the open doorway of the
garage, seemed to think Dot's handsprings were marvelously well done,
too; they whispered together excitedly and then the older one slyly
beckoned the big Gypsy man across the street to approach.

When he arrived to look over the women's heads it was Tess who was
actively engaged on the garage floor. She was as supple as an eel. Of
course, Tess Kenway would not like to be compared to an eel; but she was
proud of her ability to "wriggle into a bow knot and out again" - as Sammy
vociferously announced.

"Say, Tess! that's a peach of a trick," declared the boy with
enthusiasm. "Say! Lemme - Huh! What do _you_ want?" For suddenly he saw
the two Gypsy women at the door of the garage. The man was now out of
sight.

"Ah-h!" whined the old woman cunningly, "will not the young master and
the pretty little ladies buy a nice basket of the poor Gypsy? Good
fortune goes with it."

"Gee! who wants to buy a basket?" scoffed Sammy. "You only have to carry
things in it." The bane of Sammy Pinkney's existence was the running of
errands.

"But they _are_ pretty," murmured Tess.

"Oh - oo! See that nice green and yellow one with the cover," gasped Dot.
"Do you suppose we've got money enough to buy that one, Tess? How nice
it would be to carry the children's clothes in when we go on picnics."

By "children" Dot meant their dolls, of which, the two smaller Corner
House girls possessed a very large number. Several of these children,
besides the Alice-doll, were grouped upon a bench in the corner of the
garage as a part of the circus audience. The remainder of the spectators
were Sandyface and her family. Sandyface was now a great, _great_
grandmother cat, and more of her progeny than one would care to catalog
tranquilly viewed the little girls' circus or rolled in kittenish frolic
on the floor.

It sometimes did seem as though the old Corner House demesne was quite
given up to feline inhabitants. And the recurrent appearance of new
litters of kittens belonging to Sandyface herself, her daughters and
granddaughters, had ceased to make even a ripple in the pool of Corner
House existence.

This explanation regarding the dolls and cats is really aside from our
narrative. Tess and Dot both viewed with eager eyes the particular
covered basket held out enticingly by the old Gypsy woman.

Of course the little girls had no pockets in their gymnasium suits. But
in a pocket of her raincoat which Tess had worn down to the garage over
her blouse and bloomers, she found a dime and two pennies - "just enough
for two ice-cream cones," Sammy Pinkey observed.

"Oh! And my Alice-doll has eight cents in her cunning little beaded
bag," cried Dot, with sudden animation.

She produced the coins. But there was only twenty cents in all!

"I - I - What do you ask for that basket, please?" Tess questioned
cautiously.

"Won't the pretty little ladies give the poor old Gypsy woman half a
dollar for the basket?"

The little girls lost hope. They were not allowed to break into their
banks for any purpose without asking Ruth's permission, and their
monthly stipend of pocket money was very low.

"It is a very nice basket, little ladies," said the younger Gypsy
woman - she who was so gayly dressed and gaudily bejeweled.

"I know," Tess admitted wistfully. "But if we haven't so much money, how
can we buy it?"

"Say!" interrupted the amateur joey, hands in pockets and viewing the
controversy quite as an outsider. "Say, Tess! if you and Dot really want
that old basket, I've got two-bits I'll lend you."

"Oh, Sammy!" gasped Dot. "A whole quarter?"

"Have you got it here with you?" Tess asked.

"Yep," announced the boy.

"I don't think Ruth would mind our borrowing twenty-five cents of you,
Sammy," said Tess, slowly.

"Of course not," urged Dot. "Why, Sammy is just like one of the family."

"Only when you girls go off cruising, I ain't," observed Sammy, his face
clouding with remembrance. "_Then_ I ain't even a step-child."

But he produced the quarter and offered it to Tess. She counted it with
the money already in her hand.

"But - but that makes only forty-five cents," she said.

The two Gypsy women spoke hissingly to each other in a tongue that the
children did not, of course, understand. Then the older woman thrust the
basket out again.

"Take!" she said. "Take for forty-fi' cents, eh? The little ladies can
have."

"Go ahead," Sammy said as Tess hesitated. "That's all the old basket is
worth. I can get one bigger than that at the chain store for seven
cents."

"Oh, Sammy, it isn't as bee-_you_-tiful as this!" gasped Dot.

"Well, it's a basket just the same."

Tess put the silver and pennies in the old woman's clawlike hand and the
longed-for basket came into her possession.

"It is a good-fortune basket, pretty little ladies," repeated the old
Gypsy, grinning at them toothlessly. "You are honest little ladies, I
can see. You would never cheat the old Gypsy, would you? This is all the
money you have to pay for the beautiful basket? Forty-fi' cents?"

"Aw, say!" grumbled Sammy, "a bargain is a bargain, ain't it? And
forty-five cents is a good deal of money."

"If - if you think we ought to pay more - "

Tess held the basket out hesitatingly. Dot fairly squealed:

"Don't be a ninny, Tessie Kenway! It's ours now."

"The basket is yours, little ladies," croaked the crone as the younger
woman pulled sharply at her shawl. "But good fortune goes with it only
if you are honest with the poor old Gypsy. Good-bye."

The two strange women hurried away. Sammy lounged to the door, hands in
pockets, to look after them. He caught a momentary glimpse of the tall
Gypsy man disappearing around a corner. The two women quickly followed
him.

"Oh, what a lovely basket!" Dot was saying.

"I - I hope Ruth won't scold because we borrowed that quarter of Sammy,"
murmured Tess.

"Shucks!" exclaimed their boy friend. "Don't tell her. You can pay me
when you get some more money."

"Oh, no!" Tess said. "I would not hide anything from Ruth."

"You couldn't, anyway," said the practical Dot. "She will want to know
where we got the money to pay for the basket. Oh, _do_ open it, Tess.
Isn't it lovely?"

The cover worked on a very ingeniously contrived hinge. Had the children
known much about such things they must have seen that the basket was
worth much more than the price they had paid for it - much more indeed
than the price the Gypsies had first asked.

Tess lifted the cover. Dot crowded nearer to look in. The shadows of the
little girls' heads at first hid the bottom of the basket. Then both saw
something gleaming dully there. Tess and Dot cried out in unison; but it
was the latter's brown hand that darted into the basket and brought
forth the bracelet.

"A silver bracelet!" Tess gasped.

"Oh, look at it!" cried Dot. "Did you _ever_? Do you s'pose it's real
silver, Tess?"

"Of course it is," replied her sister, taking the circlet in her own
hand. "How pretty! It's all engraved with fret-work - "

"Hey!" ejaculated Sammy coming closer. "What's that?"

"Oh, Sammy! A silver bracelet - all fretted, too," exclaimed the highly
excited Dot.

"Huh! What's that? 'Fretted'? When my mother's fretted she's - Say! how
can a silver bracelet be cross, I want to know?"

"Oh, Sammy," Tess suddenly ejaculated, "these Gypsy women will be cross
enough when they miss this bracelet!"

"Oh! Oh!" wailed Dot. "Maybe they'll come back and want to take it and
the pretty basket, Tess. Let's run and hide 'em!"




CHAPTER II - A PROFOUND MYSTERY


Tess Kenway was positively shocked by her sister Dot's suggestion. To
think of trying to keep the silver bracelet which they knew must belong
to the Gypsy woman who had sold them the green and yellow basket, was
quite a horrifying thought to Tess.

"How _can_ you say such a thing, Dottie Kenway?" she demanded sternly.
"Of course we cannot keep the bracelet. And that old Gypsy lady said we
were honest, too. She could _see_ we were. And, then, what would Ruthie
say?"

Their older sister's opinion was always the standard for the other
Corner House girls. And that might well be, for Ruth Kenway had been
mentor and guide to her sisters ever since Dot, at least, could
remember. Their mother had died so long ago that Tess but faintly
remembered her.

The Kenways had lived in a very moderately priced tenement in Bloomsburg
when Mr. Howbridge (now their guardian) had searched for and found them,
bringing them with Aunt Sarah Maltby to the old Corner House in Milton.
In the first volume of this series, "The Corner House Girls," these
matters are fully explained.

The six succeeding volumes relate in detail the adventures of the four
sisters and their friends - and some most remarkable adventures have they
had at school, under canvas, at the seashore, as important characters in
a school play, solving the mystery of a long-lost fortune, on an
automobile tour through the country, and playing a winning part in the
fortunes of Luke and Cecile Shepard in the volume called "The Corner
House Girls Growing Up."

In "The Corner House Girls Snowbound," the eighth book of the series,
the Kenways and a number of their young friends went into the North
Woods with their guardian to spend the Christmas Holidays. Eventually
they rescued the twin Birdsall children, who likewise had come under the
care of the elderly lawyer who had so long been the Kenway sisters' good
friend.

During the early weeks of the summer, just previous to the opening of
our present story, the Corner House girls had enjoyed a delightful trip
on a houseboat in the neighboring waters. The events of this trip are
related in "The Corner House Girls on a Houseboat." During this outing
there was more than one exciting incident. But the most exciting of all
was the unexpected appearance of Neale O'Neil's father, long believed
lost in Alaska.

Mr. O'Neil's return to the States could only be for a brief period, for
his mining interests called him back to Nome. His son, however, no
longer mourned him as lost, and naturally (though this desire he kept
secret from Agnes) the boy hoped, when his school days were over, to
join his father in that far Northland.

There was really no thought in the mind of the littlest Corner House
girl to take that which did not belong to her. Most children believe
implicitly in "findings-keepings," and it seemed to Dot Kenway that as
they had bought the green and yellow basket in good faith of the two
Gypsy women, everything it contained should belong to them.

This, too, was Sammy Pinkney's idea of the matter. Sammy considered
himself very worldly wise.

"Say! what's the matter with you, Tess Kenway? Of course that bracelet
is yours - if you want it. Who's going to stop you from keeping it, I want
to know?"

"But - but it must belong to one of those Gypsy ladies," gasped Tess. "The
old lady asked us if we were honest. Of course we are!"

"Pshaw! If they miss it, they'll be back after that silver thing fast
enough."

"But, Sammy, suppose they don't know the bracelet fell into this
basket?"

"Then you and Dot are that much in," was the prompt rejoinder of their
boy friend. "You bought the basket and all that was in it. They couldn't
claim the _air_ in that basket, could they? Well, then! how could they
lay claim to anything else in the basket?"

Such logic seemed unanswerable to Dot's mind. But Tess shook a doubtful
head. She had a feeling that they ought to run after the Gypsies to
return to them at once the bracelet. Only, neither she nor Dot was
dressed properly to run through Milton's best residential streets after
the Romany people. As for Sammy -

Happily, so Tess thought, she did not have to decide the matter.
Musically an automobile horn sounded its warning and the children ran
out to welcome the two older Corner House girls and Neale O'Neil, who
acted as their chauffeur on this particular trip.

They had been far out into the country for eggs and fresh vegetables, to
the farm, in fact, of Mr. Bob Buckham, the strawberry king and the
Corner House girls' very good friend. In these times of very high prices
for food, Ruth Kenway considered it her duty to save money if she could
by purchasing at first cost for the household's needs.

"Otherwise," this very capable young housewife asked, "how shall we
excuse the keeping of an automobile when the up-keep and everything is
so high?"

"Oh, _do_," begged Agnes, the flyaway sister, "_do_ let us have
something impractical, Ruth. I just hate the man who wrote the first
treatise on political economy."

"I fancy it is 'household economy' you mean, Aggie," returned her
sister, smiling. "And I warrant the author of the first treatise on that
theme was a woman."

"Mrs. Eva Adam, I bet!" chuckled Neale O'Neil, hearing this controversy
from the driver's seat. "It has always been in my mind that the First
Lady of the Garden of Eden was tempted to swipe those apples more
because the price of other fruit was so high than for any other reason."

"Then Adam was stingy with the household money," declared Agnes.

"I really wish you would not use such words as 'swipe' before the
children, Neale," sighed Ruth who, although she was no purist, did not
wish the little folk to pick up (as they so easily did) slang phrases.

She stepped out of the car when Neale had halted it within the garage
and Agnes handed her the egg basket. Tess and Dot immediately began
dancing about their elder sister, both shouting at once, the smallest
girl with the green and yellow basket and Tess with the silver bracelet
in her hand.

"Oh, Ruthie, what do you think?"

"See how pretty it is! And they never missed it."

"_Can't_ we keep it, Ruthie?" This from Dot. "We paid those Gypsy ladies
for the basket and all that was in it. Sammy says so."

"Then it must be true of course," scoffed Agnes. "What is it?"

"Well, I guess I know some things," observed Sammy, bridling. "If you
buy a walnut you buy the kernel as well as the shell, don't you? And
that bracelet was inside that covered basket, like the kernel in a nut."

"Listen!" exclaimed Neale likewise getting out of the car. "Sammy's a
very Solomon for judgment."

"Now don't you call me that, Neale O'Neil!" ejaculated Sammy angrily. "I
ain't a pig."

"Wha - what! Who called you a pig, Sammy?"

"Well, that's what Mr. Con Murphy calls _his_ pig - 'Solomon.' You needn't
call me by any pig-name, so there!"

"I stand reproved," rejoined Neale with mock seriousness. "But, see
here: What's all this about the basket and the bracelet - a two-fold
mystery?"

"It sounds like a thriller in six reels," cried Agnes, jumping out of
the car herself to get a closer view of the bracelet and the basket.
"My! Where did you get that gorgeous bracelet, children?"

The beauty of the family, who loved "gew-gaws" of all kinds, seized the
silver circlet and tried it upon her own plump arm. Ruth urged Tess to
explain and had to place a gentle palm upon Dot's lips to keep them
quiet so that she might get the straight of the story from the more
sedate Tess.

"And so, that's how it was," concluded Tess. "We bought the basket after
borrowing Sammy's twenty-five cent piece, and of course the basket
belongs to us, doesn't it, Ruthie?"

"Most certainly, my dear," agreed the elder sister.

"And inside was that beautiful fretted silver bracelet. And that - "

"Just as certainly belongs to the Gypsies," finished Ruth. "At least, it
does not belong to you and Dot."

"Aw shu-u-cks!" drawled Sammy in dissent.

Even Agnes cast a wistful glance at the older girl. Ruth was always so
uncompromising in her decisions. There was never any middle ground in
her view. Either a thing was right, or it was wrong, and that was all
there was to it!

"Well," sighed Tess, "that Gypsy lady _said_ she knew we were honest."

"I think," Ruth observed thoughtfully, "that Neale had better run the
car out again and look about town for those Gypsy women. They can't have
got far away."

"Say, Ruth! it's most supper time," objected Neale. "Have a heart!"

"Anyway, I wouldn't trouble myself about a crowd of Gypsies," said
Agnes. "They may have stolen the bracelet."

"Oh!" gasped Tess and Dot in unison.

"You know what June Wildwood told us about them. And she lived with
Gypsies for months."

"Gypsies are not all alike," the elder sister said confidently in answer
to this last remark by Agnes. "Remember Mira and King David Stanley, and
how nice they were to Tess and Dottie?" she asked, speaking of an
incident related in "The Corner House Girls on a Tour."

"I don't care!" exclaimed Agnes, pouting, and still viewing the bracelet


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